Saturday, April 10, 2010

On Shaw, Spag, Stanely and Bencini at the League of Women Voters-sponsored candidates' forum at Greensboro College

"...Myrene Stanley, an orthodontic lab technician, and Bill Bencini, a High Point city councilmember who runs a company that supplies materials to furniture makers are both Republicans seeking the District 2 seat that serves the High Point area and that has been held for the past 20 years by Commissioner Steve Arnold.

...Commissioner Linda Shaw and attorney Samuel "Spag" Spagnola, who are both Republicans seeking the District 3 seat Shaw currently holds. District 3 includes much of northwest Guilford County including Oak Ridge.

Shaw has held the District 3 seat for a decade, and Spagnola, who wants to take that seat away from her, is an attorney who practices a lot of family law, works frequently with juvenile delinquents as part of his job, and handles bankruptcies.

"I'm not your average attorney running for office," Spagnola said.

He said, for instance, that he chose not to be a member of the American Bar Association. "I don't care for their politics," he said.

Spagnola has been critical of Shaw for voting for economic incentives for rich companies over the years...

Shaw defended her votes on incentives.

...Shaw added that, during her time on the board, incentives have cost the county about $15 million, but had helped, she said, bring in over $1 billion of revenue and helped create 7,779 jobs.

What Shaw didn't say was that, in all likelihood, many of those companies – if not all – would have located in Guilford County even if they hadn't gotten incentives from the county.

On the issue of incentives, Stanley, who during some answers was reading from her notes, said that, with around 11 percent unemployment in the county, some incentives might be a good idea if they were effective ones.

Spagnola said careful planning and a low tax rate, rather than incentives, are the type of things that will bring jobs to the county. He said he didn't buy the argument that the county had to offer incentives to be competitive for jobs. "Bad policy is never a necessary evil," Spagnola said.

Bencini said he thought the most effective way to bring jobs to the area would be by shaping up the community, and by, say, providing attractions such as nice parks and sports complexes.

...Shaw emphasized a need to get city water to Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge Military Academy. "It's a desperate need," Shaw said.

...On the issue of saving taxpayer money and cutting costs, Spagnola said consolidation where possible was one answer.

...Stanley said she did think there were some possibilities where the cities, the towns and the county could consolidate services and save money – she mentioned planning services and trash collection. Since the county doesn't do trash collection, it would be difficult to consolidate, but no one mentioned that at the forum.

Bencini came right out and said he was very skeptical of the whole idea. "I'm not that enthusiastic" he said of consolidating services in an attempt to save money."

Scott Yost
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